Pastor's Kids Under Pressure

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners


Dear Chuck
I enjoy reading your column. Thank you so much for your wisdom and compassion.

My husband and I have two adult daughters in their mid-20s. The oldest has always been the strong-willed, the youngest has been very complacent. They have both graduated college and are working and both are single.

I am concerned about our youngest. She has moved back to our city after going to another state for college, and there are not a lot of Christian singles in our area. Our church is not a huge church, and I see my youngest daughter -- who has always been so easygoing and obedient -- being tempted to go out and do things that her dad and I don't approve of. We see a level of discouragement from her and seeing her giving in to temptation. I realize that she would like to get married, but there are no prospects in our church and she's beginning to really shut her dad and me out. She's not living at home, but has her own apartment. How can we be supportive? She has indicated that she feels pressure to be the perfect pastor's kid. We have never intended to put unrealistic expectations on either of our children. We've always told them that our expectations would be no different if their dad wasn't a pastor. I'm just not understanding how to help her or even pray for her, especially since she really doesn't even want to spend time with her dad and me. Our oldest daughter went through some rebellion when she was in middle school but really turned her life around and is sold out to God and working for Him.

Chuck's Response
Thanks for the note about your daughters and what role you can play in their lives. They are adults now, and so I think your input should be extremely limited and rare. The more you try to "help," the more the younger one will feel "pressure" to be something. She may then rebel and simply do her own thing. This might sound strange, but I would suggest that you and your husband take your youngest out on a dinner date. Let her eat the "wrong" foods and have too much dessert and drink whatever she wants. And then say, "________________, we want to ask your forgiveness for trying to be your Holy Spirit. You already have One of those, and we were only trying to help. But you are an adult now, so we are releasing you to do whatever you think best in your life. We will always love you unconditionally and stand ready to help in any way we can, but you are now God's child and we are releasing you to Him to take care of."

First of all, she will probably smell your breath to see if you guys are on something, because this may be out of character for you. Then she might laugh. Then she might cry, when the impact of what you are doing hits her. We did this with our son many years ago, and he later told us that was the "dirtiest" trick we ever played on him. All of a sudden, GOD was the one putting the pressure on him, not us. I'd love to send you a videotape by Cindy Tobias on the strong-willed child. It applies at all ages. It would come as my gift. I recently had a couple watch it with their 20-year-old son and after watching it, the boy said, "This is the first time in my life I felt really understood," and the parents said, "This is the first time we have really understood how he was designed by God." These are some thoughts for your consideration. Be sure to get back to me if you want to talk further.

Chuck Snyder



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Updated 05/24/2005